In light of the airline devaluations we’ve seen the past several weeks, just about the only good news in the airline industry lately has been regarding the use of electronic devices aboard planes, as the FAA has finally updated their in-air electronic device policy. Most of the major US carriers have updated their policies to allow the use of electronic devices under 10,000 feet, though only with airplane mode on and wifi disabled.
Southwest announced yesterday they’d be the first airline to offer gate-to-gate wifi, per an email they sent out to Rapid Rewards members:
No more powering down! Starting today, you will be able to use your small portable electronic devices, including smartphones, tablets, and e-readers, in “airplane mode” from gate-to-gate on all Southwest Airlines® flights!
Our satellite-based WiFi allows you to enjoy uninterrupted access to free live and on-demand TV compliments of DISH® or for $8 a day per device, you can stay connected onboard all day, even during stops and connections.
We’re proud to be the only airline to offer you gate-to-gate connectivity on the majority of our fleet. So as you get ready to head out for your Thanksgiving travel, be sure to bring your fully charged WiFi-enabled device and headphones with you to stay connected and entertained above and below 10,000 feet!*
For more information, visit southwest.com/wifi.
See you onboard soon!
This is awesome news, especially when you factor in how much time usually passes between when the door closes and you pass 10,000 feet, and again between 10,000 feet and when you reach the gate — at many airports that translates to close to an extra hour of productivity. While I’m far from a tech expert, if I’m not mistaken Gogo’s systems aren’t designed to function below 10,000 feet, so it’s unlikely we’ll see Alaska, American, Delta, US Airways, etc., follow. Meanwhile those airlines with satellite based wifi technology (including JetBlue, Southwest, and United) should have no problem implementing such a policy.